Several prominent Indian-Americans have applauded Kamala Harris formally becoming the Democratic Party nominee to be the US vice-president, describing it as a historic moment in American politics and a quantum leap forward for the community. Harris, 55, scripted history on Wednesday by becoming the first Black and Indian descent individual to be nominated as a vice-presidential candidate of a major political party.
“Kamala’s story is the American story. Her acceptance of the vice-presidential nomination is a quantum leap forward for Indian-Americans, showing that we are taking our place in American history books,” said Neil Makhija, executive director of IMPACT, a leading Indian American advocacy organisation.
After four years of incendiary anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from the White House, this milestone is a welcome moment that immigrant communities of all backgrounds can celebrate, he said.
“Asian Americans are the fastest-growing bloc in the country, and Kamala’s candidacy is energising and mobilising our communities in a way that will have lasting reverberations for decades to come,” Makhija said.
Eminent Indian-American and Democratic fundraiser Frank Islam said that Kamala Harris is not only a great choice from an electoral standpoint but also a morally sound choice.
“Kamala Harris is galvanising the African American community, Indian Americans and women in general,” he said.
“In 2016, America had a chance to elect a woman as the commander in chief. Now the country gets to elect a woman of colour — an African American and Indian American woman — as its Vice President. I am confident that this time around, America will get it right,” Islam said.
Describing it as “truly historic moment for Indian-Americans” community leader Ajay Bhutoria from California said that it gives the community great pride and joy to be able to witness this important moment in history.
“No matter where your parents come from, no matter what race, religion you belong to, if you work hard and have the right values and character you can rise to become the vice president and one day the President of the United States. Everything is possible for people who work hard in this country. Merit is recognised and rewarded,” he said.
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have the experience and leadership to lead us out of the economic and healthcare crisis which the Trump administration has burdened us with,” Bhutoria said. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the right partners who will move America forward and bring India and the US closer. Under their leadership Indo US relations will be Stronger Together!” he added. This was a historic moment for the entire community, a profound reminder of just how far the diaspora has travelled in American public life in such a short amount of time, Ronak D Desai, a scholar at Harvard University’s Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute, said. Although this is the latest milestone for the Indian-American community, it will certainly not be the last, he said.
“Senator Harris proudly declared that her Indian heritage is an integral part of who she is, that her progress is the community’s progress and that her story is the story of both the American dream and the Indian diaspora. It is so utterly remarkable and yet so familiarly common at the same time,” Desai said.
The story of Dr Shyamla Gopalan, Harris’ mother, and the ways she shaped her daughter is a poignant one that resonates deeply with the Indian-American community, he said, adding her journey is the community’s journey. “And her daughter represents the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of so many within the community,” Desai said.